Review: BPMD – American Made
Napalm Records (12 June 2020)
Reviewer: David Pearce
BPMD are a supergroup made up of Bobby Ellsworth, who takes lead vocal duties, Mike Portnoy on drums, Mark Menghi on bass and lead guitarist Phil Demmel. Many of you will recognise them from their previous groups but make no mistake they are not resting on their former glories.
The album starts with ‘Wang Dang Sweet Pootang‘ with Ellsworth sounding like Noddy Holder in his prime! From the initial screamed spoken intro to the incendiary playing of these four experienced rockers it is a real statement of intent that opens this record with a blast.
‘Toys in the Attic‘ is a track that starts off with Demmel’s blistering guitar riff and builds from there. The Aerosmith original is great fun but BPMD give the music a much harder edge that really adds a lot to the song.
‘Evil‘ is three minutes of AC/DC style as the quartet take a Howlin Wolf original, rip it to shreds and turn it in to a heavy rock classic. The drums and bass of Portnoy and Demmel in particular really give a firm bedrock to this amazing version and makes the blues feel of the old version a distant memory.
If you’re going head to head with ZZ Top you need some confidence, but thanks to tight playing this version of ‘Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers‘ really hits the spot.
‘Saturday Night Special‘ was originally performed by Southern legends Lynyrd Skynyrd and they can surely have no complaints about the way that BPMD give a real punch to the song. There’s a real respect here, but they are not afraid to bring it up to date with attitude and a virtuoso performance from Ellsworth once again.
‘Tattoo Vampire‘ is a great song originally by Blue Oyster Cult that is given an Iron Maiden style reworking that really brings it to life. ‘D.O.A.‘ once again shows the experience of the quartet as they complement each other’s strengths and show their musical pedigree in no uncertain terms and it is definitely my favourite song on the album. ‘Walk Away‘ keeps up the standard and the volume as they grab the song by the throat and refuse to show it mercy.
Penultimate track ‘Never in my Life‘ is another AC/DC style track that updates the original and improves on it. The final track ‘We’re an American Band‘ is nothing less than a statement of intent from four consummate musicians who are steeped in the traditions, sounds and songs of American rock music.
The album shows that they can rock with the best of them, which we knew already from their previous bands. What it also shows is that they know how to cover songs without slavishly copying them or losing their original elements. By choosing songs that aren’t as well-known they can put their mark on them, and they do so in no uncertain terms. This is probably the best covers album you will hear this or any other year and a supergroup that really deserves the name.